NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - INSIDE SLANT
Head coach Chip Kelly named Nick Foles the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles for the rest of the 2013 season.
Foles will start Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (7-4) in a game that could have playoff implications.
Kelly, speaking Tuesday as the Eagles (6-4) return from their bye week trailing the Dallas Cowboys by one-half game in the NFC East, said veteran Michael Vick is preparing as a professional and wants to do "anything he can" to help the team as a No. 2 quarterback.
Kelly said Vick knew and understood the direction the team is taking with a three-game winning streak entering Week 13.
"He's been a great leader and will be our No. 2 this week," Kelly said.
Vick is ready to return from a hamstring injury but Foles has the hot hand.
"In all honesty, in all fairness, how can you take a guy out of the game who's been playing so well?" Vick said last week. "I've been in this stage before, and I know what it's like. I understand the position that this team is in, and the one thing I never want to do is be a distraction or put our team or our coaches in a position where they feel like they're not doing the right thing or I feel like they're not doing the right thing.
"I trust what's going on, I enjoy being a part of it, I love the game of football in general. So it's important to me to be there in support and be ready if my name and number is called again."
Foles has thrown 16 touchdown passes and no interceptions with an NFL-leading 127.9 passer rating since replacing Vick.
Foles threw for 298 yards in a 24-16 win over the Washington Redskins on Sunday and has thrown 199 passes without an interception.
"I thought Nick went out and put on a great performance against the Redskins," Vick said. "He went out and did everything the coaches asked him to do, and that's what you want in a must-win game, and that's what the magnitude of that game was."
Vick, an 11-year veteran who has been to four Pro Bowls and taken his team to the playoffs four times, said he likes being a mentor for Foles.
"He had an opportunity to learn from me this year and last year and just sit behind me and pick my brain, and he also went out and played the game, and now he's just taking that and everything is unfolding for him," Vick said.
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - NOTES, QUOTES
The Eagles are out of the bye week with a 6-5 record and tied for first place with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.
This is the latest the Eagles have had their bye since 2000, Andy Reid's second year in Philadelphia, when the Eagles didn't get a break until Week 16. They won 11 games that year and earned their first postseason trip under Reid.
The Eagles have won three in a row and feel remarkably chipper for a team that has played 11 straight games without a break. They've managed to stay remarkably healthy.
Through 11 week, starters have missed a grand total of 12 games because of injuries, not including wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who tore an ACL in training camp.
Their five starting offensive linemen haven't missed a start. None of their top six defensive linemen have missed any time due to injury. They have had fewer soft-tissue injuries than most of the league's other teams.
"I feel terrific," said Todd Herremans, the Eagles' 31-year-old left guard, who has played every snap this season. "I think a lot of the guys, the stuff that we're doing, really takes care of our bodies.
"I mean, I feel amazing for being 11 weeks without a bye. It's working. It's working for me."
The "it" that Herremans is referring to is coach Chip Kelly's sports science emphasis. The Eagles are the only team in the league with a sports science coordinator (Shaun Huls).
Their strength and conditioning programs are unlike any other team in the NFL.
"I'm not surprised at how good the players feel," Kelly said. "That's part of the plan. It's a well thought-out research plan. It's not just, 'Let's try this.'
"But it's a two-way street. They have to buy into it, and they've done an unbelievable job of buying into it. We're not with them 24/7. Nor should we be with them 24/7.
"But we've got a bunch of guys who want to be great at what they do, and they understand not just what they do when they're here during the day, but when they're not here during the day has a great effect on them in terms of how they respond physically on Sunday."
The Eagles are one of the few teams in the league that practice on Tuesdays. Most teams only have a walk-through on Saturdays before a Sunday game. Not Kelly. He has the walk-through on Friday and then a regular practice on Saturday, even before road games.
Kelly is big on players stretching before bed and getting 8-to-10 hours of sleep. He often has players wear heart and sleep monitors. Strength coach Josh Hingst constantly changes up players' weight programs so that their bodies always are being challenged.
--QB Matt Barkley's father, Les, is in the Philippines helping the typhoon victims there. He traveled there with a Christian-based relief organization. "It didn't surprise me at all," Barkley said. "That's the type of man he is. He is always looking to serve first, and he is blessed to be able to do that at a moment's notice, and to be able to help whenever he can." Barkley's father is an insurance businessman who was an All-American water polo player at USC in the 1970s. Three years ago, Les Barkley went to Haiti after an earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people hit there. Said Matt: "He has a heart for service, especially with disaster-relief stuff like this."
--P Donnie Jones was selected NFC special teams player of the week. For Jones, a 10-year veteran, it's the first time he's won the award. He had an outstanding game in the Eagles' 24-16 win over the Redskins, finishing with a franchise-record 50.7-yard net average and put four of his six punts inside the 20, including one at the two-yard line and another at the four.
--QB Nick Foles, who isn't known for his running ability, actually outrushed Robert Griffin III on Sunday. Foles had 47 yards on nine carries, including three rushing first downs and a rushing touchdown. Griffin finished with 44 yards on 10 carries. Coach Chip Kelly said he's been pleased with Foles' decision-making as a runner. "I think it's been good," Kelly said. "He's missed a few and he'll admit that. But a lot of that will come with repetition. A lot of that also is how much do we want to put him in those situations. If we hand it off (to a running back) and can get three, we're good with that. We can live with second-and-seven."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1,248 -- The number of snaps LB DeMeco Ryans is on pace to play this season. He's never played more than 1,074 before.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't care what they say. You can call it whatever you want." -- Chip Kelly, on whether it's fair to say his defense, which is 31st in the league in yards allowed, but has held seven straight opponents to 21 points or fewer, is a bend-but-doesn't-break unit
NFL Team Report - Philadelphia Eagles - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--P Donnie Jones has put 22 of his 57 punts inside the 20, including four of six Sunday against the Redskins. He had a franchise-record 50.7-yard net average against the Redskins.
--RB LeSean McCoy has an NFL-high 213 rushing attempts and an NFL-high 247 touches. He is on pace to finish with 310 carries and 360 touches, both of which would be career-highs. Running backs coach Duce Staley said earlier in the season that McCoy isn't built to be a 300-carry back.
--QB Nick Foles almost certainly will be the Eagles' starting quarterback for the remainder of the season, as long as he remains healthy.
--WR DeSean Jackson has had 80-plus receiving yards in six of the Eagles' first 11 games. His 58 receptions are four fewer than his career high.
--S Earl Wolff, who missed Sunday's game because of a knee injury, is expected to miss at least one more game. He didn't practice Tuesday.
--CB Bradley Fletcher, who has missed the last two games because of a pectoral injury, was back at practice Tuesday and hopes to play against Arizona after the bye.
--LB Mychal Kendricks, who missed the Washington game because of a knee injury, returned to practice Tuesday for the team's final workout before the bye. He said he should be able to play in the team's next game against Arizona.
--QB Michael Vick's hamstring injury has healed. He practiced Tuesday and probably will back up Nick Foles when the Eagles return from the bye.
REPORT CARD AFTER 11 GAMES
PASSING OFFENSE: A -- Since replacing injured Michael Vick, Nick Foles has played as well as any quarterback in the league. He leads the league in passing and yards per attempt and has yet to throw an interception in 199 attempts. DeSean Jackson is having his best season, and Riley Cooper, who was invisible with Vick at quarterback, has flourished since Foles took over.
RUSHING OFFENSE: A -- LeSean McCoy leads the NFL in rushing and is on pace for a 1,467-yard season. Teams started bringing a safety down in the box against him, but the recent success of the Eagles' passing game has put the kibosh to that and things are looking up again for McCoy. His athletic offensive line has done a good job of getting to the second level and leading the way on outside zone runs.
PASS DEFENSE: B -- Bill Davis' defense has focused on not allowing opponents to throw the ball over their head, and for the most part, they've accomplished that. They've allowed just four touchdown passes in the last five games and have been good at limiting yards after the catch. They have done a decent job of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but don't have the sacks to show for it.
RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Eagles have done a reasonably good job against the run this season. While they've allowed 4.1 yards per carry, they've given up just 19 double-digit-yard runs by opposing running backs. Their front three, led by ends Cedric Thornton and Fletcher Cox, has gotten better as the year has gone on and have kept blockers off of their inside linebackers.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- The Eagles have gotten little from their return teams. DeSean Jackson likely will replace Damaris Johnson as the primary punt returner in December, and newcomer Brad Smith is expected to get an opportunity to replace Johnson on kick returns. Kicker Alex Henery has been inconsistent. With the exception of a couple of big plays, the coverage units have been very good most of the season. Punter Donnie Jones has done an excellent job putting kicks inside the 20.
COACHING: B-plus -- Chip Kelly has quickly proven that the jump from college to the pros wasn't too big for him. He's made a few mistakes, but has learned from them. His up-tempo offense has been very effective. Bill Davis has done an excellent job in the transition from a wide-nine 4-3 scheme to a two-gap 3-4. His unit has improved every week.